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Vol. LXII, No. 8
April 16, 2010

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CTSA Industry Forum Tackles Challenges of Collaboration

Urging participants to “think boldly” about improving collaborative research processes, NIH director Dr. Francis Collins opened the National Center for Research Resources’ 2-day forum to promote better partnerships among biomedical research sectors. Such radical thinking, Collins commented, is required for the biomedical research community to cross the so-called “valley of death”—the gap that separates basic research from pharmaceutical and medical device development.

“If there are barriers getting in the way of partnerships,” he said, “let’s identify them and see what we can do about them.”

Collins spoke to an audience of more than 400 at the recent “Clinical and Translational Science Awards (CTSA) Industry Forum: Promoting Efficient and Effective Collaborations among Academia, Government and Industry.” Designed to explore ways to streamline the development of new drugs, devices and diagnostics, the forum focused on challenges, current practices and successful management models.

Dr. Neville Owen of the University of Queensland in Australia studies the consequences
of sedentary behavior. His research paints an unflattering
picture of what modern cultures face.
NIH director Dr. Francis Collins opens the National Center for Research Resources’ 2-day forum to promote better partnerships among biomedical research sectors.

Meeting presentations, breakout sessions and a poster session covered broad overviews from the state of collaborative research to case studies that examined ways to move products from the idea stage to the market. The need for partners to align their goals and timelines was one of several common themes. Speakers advocated more early- stage, “proof of concept” funding and discussed various sources of support.

“Unless we learn to collaborate better, we aren’t going to be able to deliver the innovations patients need,” said Dr. John Wagner, vice president of clinical pharmacology at Merck. “Industry, academia, government and regulatory scientists all must collaborate to advance disease research and develop innovative medicines.”

Resonating throughout the event was the requirement that everyone understand the needs and interests of their research partners. Forum speakers noted the diversity of stakeholders, including patients and advocacy groups, academic and government scientists, businesses small and large and regulators. Another recurring theme was that stakeholders must become involved in the research process in its early stages. Negotiations of intellectual property rights and restrictions from conflict of interest rules were among the most commonly mentioned barriers to collaboration.

Forum leaders will produce a published paper based on participant input from the event. The forum already has spurred the formation of several work groups to tackle challenges. The NIH community is invited to participate in the work groups. To volunteer or learn more, contact Lili Portilla, Speakers’ slide presentations and a summary of the forum will be available at A videocast of the event can be viewed at NIHRecord Icon

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